I thought the park bench in the playground in central Figures was the perfect place to breastfeed my thirsty one month old. Louis drank, Ernie played and I clocked up some me time in Zara. How wrong I was, instead the street sweeper shook his dirty broom at me and a pigeon pooed on my pram as I found out you don’t get your boobs out in the park.
I am not a militant breastfeeder, if it’s right for you do it. If it isn’t don’t. I am breastfeeding mainly due to the fact I am not organised: I would take out the wrong number of bottles, they would not be properly sterilised and I would invariably end up begging, borrowing and potentially stealing necessary items to keep my bub fed and watered. So, I breastfeed. After an hour in the car (we currently live in the south of france) Louis was ready for a feed and Ernie had earned some play time. I thought I had hit jackpot when I saw a car park next to a play park. I didn’t account for angry street sweeper who waggled his broom at me shouting as I fed. I genuinely thought he was telling me I had dropped something. My spanish is rubbish and I didn’t understand he was having a go, until he got near and after I had spun around left and right looking for the item I thought I had obviously dropped. In doing so freeing my other boob for all to see. (Which in hindsight is why the street sweeper got louder and angrier.) He obviously thought I was goading him, I wasn’t, but I can see how nodding, smiling and freeing a second boob may come across like that.
The thing that baffles me about this is that every time we go to Spain people fuss the children, and when I was pregnant they could not have been more helpful. They make allowances in restaurants (as my toddler tries to share half eaten chips with fellow diners). They let me queue jump, they smile and tickle and cuddle the babies. Often interrupting our meals or drinks to say hello to the children. Which is why this is so odd, perhaps it’s not a ‘spanish’ thing and just a ‘middle aged man thing.’ Or that particular man. I wasn’t trying to make a point by metaphorically sticking two fingers up to him but I inadvertently did.
I have friends who felt too awkward to feed in public, I have friends who felt to guilty to stop feeding even thought they had cracked nipples and bled. Stick two fingers up to that attitude! I won’t be adopting the Spanish attitude to breastfeeding but I will be sticking by the approach of my French friends and French mid wife: “If you feed, it’s better for the baby, if you don’t it’s better for your boobs.”